Column: Through my own reflection


Photo credit: Marissa Gendy

The words “not enough” are a symbolic message embedded in every woman’s mind as a constant reminder that their body is not beautiful. Women, especially teens, struggle with the idea of not being good enough for others, yet the person we should strive to be good enough for is ourselves.

By Marissa Gendy, Columnist

Content warning: The following column discusses eating disorders while exploring body image.  

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, body image is defined as the way “you see yourself when you look in a mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind.” Looking in the mirror itself is a challenge. Seeing the same person every day, no change; same hair, same skin, same arms, same stomach, same legs, same everything. I worry every time I look at the mirror that I see the same girl I saw yesterday, nothing special.

I have been plagued with a house of mirrors. I wake up, and go to my bathroom, I see a mirror. I go to get dressed and I see a mirror. I go get food and I see a mirror. A mirror exists to reflect an image that you were never made to see. Your eyes are set in a position to see others yet a mirror exists to reveal the hidden image that was never meant to be uncovered. 

A mirror shows me my skin. Our skin is such a mysterious yet absolutely beautiful organ. It’s our protector, it protects the vulnerable parts of our body: blood, heart, lungs, digestive system and our bones. Yet I choose to look at it with disgust and hatred because of its nature to emphasize my hidden extra adipose tissue. My protector of vulnerabilities is treated as nothing less than an intruder.

My skin’s given color of half white half tan is excruciatingly complicated. Complimenting my internal struggle with my racial identity, my skin is a constant reminder that I will never fully be one race. My skin only reveals an intricate story that has only ever been brought to light through a magnifying glass. 

A mirror shows me my size. A continual reminder that tight clothes make me uncomfortable. Short clothes make me feel exposed. Lose clothes hide my curves, they hide my exposed parts, the parts I want hidden. I see curves, extra skin, stretch marks, blemishes and scars as my disasters. But if you were to show me your stretch marks, I would tell you it was your body’s way of telling you that it was having trouble containing your beauty. Why can’t I tell myself this? Why can’t my body have trouble containing its beauty? That’s because we accept the love we believe we deserve and when you grow up in a society that tells you your stretch marks are anything but beautiful, you condemn yourself to a hatred that you are undeserving of. 

A mirror shows me my face. The uneven eyebrows, tiny ears, small eyes, jagged eyelashes, but I also see my perfectly shaped lips, my hazel yet mostly green eyes and tiny little nose. For the most part. I’m happy with my face. I have accepted that we are only ever given one face and that we must love and cherish what we have been given.

I never grew up with the idea of what beauty is and what it meant to be beautiful. I grew up thinking every person was beautiful. But then I went to high school and I saw that beauty is defined. If you don’t have a skinny waist or perfect skin, you aren’t seen as beautiful.

It has taken me years to start to comprehend that beauty has no standard. What makes us beautiful is our existence. We exist to be beautiful and no one can tell us how we exist. In a world that teaches you to hate ourselves and continually punish yourselves for not living up to their standards, the strongest form of resistance is self love.